Touted as the ‘People’s Car’, when Mr. Ratan Tata unveiled the Nano in 2007, it was expected to be the next big thing for the Indian automotive industry. All the ingredients were there to make it a huge success but somehow it never took off. Some said it was “too cheap for its own good” while others tagged it as a “poor man’s car”. Though most would pin the blame on the poor marketing strategy and the negative PR, Tata lost the game on the operational front as well. Delay in deliveries, long booking periods and design problems have plagued the Nano ever since the first car rolled off the assembly line in 2009. Some feel that Nano is a lost cause for Tata, or is it?
Despite its poor performance, most people actually still want Nano to succeed. However, the underlying problem is that those who want it to succeed the most are the ones who are not buying it. A car is an aspirational product for most Indians, especially for the ones that Nano targets—two wheeler owners looking for an upgrade. Nano makes sense for them, but no one wants to be associated with something that is considered cheap. Tata is struggling to change this image. Maybe Ratan Tata himself driving a Nano is the only solution, but most of us know that’s pretty unlikely to happen.
What the world needs
Tata cars are very popular with taxi operators across India because of their high reliability and mileage. When Nano was announced, many even expected it to be a welcome replacement for the popular ‘auto rickshaws’. Tata has often tried to break that stigma and design cars that are more appealing to families, but in the process they may have overlooked an opportunity. In this era of growing traffic congestion and the green revolution, could Nano have all the right ingredients to be a smart solution to the modern world’s public transport needs?
Who thinks you’re special
We see another opportunity in European and American markets, where the microcar segment has growing popularity. Unlike India, where the length of your car sometimes seems directly proportional to your social standing, European and American markets might welcome the Nano as a symbol of innovation and usefulness. And, instead of looking at it as an opportunity to ‘take India to the world,’ Tata should look to ‘bring the world to India’. In our experience, we see a natural tendency for Indians to prefer foreign brands and tastes. If Tata could make Nano a hit abroad and then bring it back to India, the Indian consumer might start to see it in a new light.
What is the Nano really for?
There’s a lot for Tata to be excited about, still, Nano’s Achilles heel is a lack of clarity on its purpose. Since Nano’s launch, Tata has let the media and the rest of the world drive it they way they liked. What Tata needs to do is to go back to the drawing board and answer three key questions- Was the original idea brilliant? Is it still relevant to today’s context? And can Tata take this thought and make it work across segments? Apart from answering these questions, Tata can also take inspiration from what Mercedes did for Smart.
This will be the hardest truth to admit for anyone at Tata but the key to bringing a sputtering Nano to life may be “Going back to the future” and finding its true purpose.
Zia Patel is a senior strategist at Wolff Olins Dubai. Aditya Julka is a management student at IIM Lucknow and is interning with Wolff Olins.
Yahoo is the slowest-growing U.S. Internet company in its class—a trend the company is furtively trying to reverse. With Marissa Mayer at the helm, and former Goldman-banker-turned-‘Chief Development Officer’ Jacqueline Reses at her side, Yahoo has been busy restructuring and acquiring - but with Q1 results showing a 4% dip in sales and profit rising only 36% there is still a ways to go.
In recent months, the magnifying glass on Marissa has kept the company even more tight-lipped than usual. Obviously a company in Yahoo’s position can’t reveal all of its strategies, but if the leadership have a clear purpose and vision for their brand, then it’s time to leverage the attention, and start to tell that story. Here’s a way to go about it:
First, define your journey.
We know Yahoo wants to win in mobile and personalized content, its last six acquisitions have been about building the capabilities, products and people to help get them there. Those bets are good – and are an indicator that Yahoo is moving from click centric to consumer centric, but it needs to reconcile the fact that at its core it’s still an ads-for-content company– and that core is not doing so well.
From the outside, its efforts could be seen as a series of quick fixes to magically shape shift, while it leaves its core business to languish (maybe Yahoo Stream Ads will change this!). As a perpetual optimist, and believer in Marissa - I don’t think this is the case - and the Yahoo journey of transformation is well planned. They just haven’t let anyone know about it yet. Let us in! We want to know where the business is going, why – and how the legacy business will play a role along the way. We’re not asking to give away all the secrets – but get us excited, and admit when you’ve gone off the path a bit. A bit of honesty and humility would also be welcomed in a world of platitudinal investor chatter and empty press releases.
Defining a brand purpose that explains Yahoo’s role in the world will show customers that this journey is rooted in the needs of real people, and it will motivate and focus the business along the way.
Second, remember what made you great.
Most companies begin with an ambitious leader on a mission to solve a problem, to fill a gap in the market, or bring a genius idea to reality. They are new, exciting, different. Customers flock to them, everyone wants to work for them, they grow at a dizzying rate, they go public, get rich, they are hugely successful, mission accomplished – or is it…? Wait, what was that mission again?
But it seems a law of physics— as many businesses get older, bigger, more diverse, more complex, more siloed, have more mouths to feed, and increasing pressure to serve shareholders – they slip into a gentle, sometimes imperceptible, state of decline. Think of a struggling Starbucks in 2008, before Howard Shultz returned as CEO to bring them back to customer-centric strategies and their original, neighborhood feel.
Yahoo’s problem, similarly, was not adapting its collegial, quirky, creative DNA into a sustainable competitive advantage. And now more than ever, with all of Marissa’s focus on the new, she can’t afford to forget the old. Not only is it disheartening for Yahoo’s legacy employees to see the focus on the new kids and their toys, there is a treasure trove of value in Yahoo’s history and culture that seems to have been neglected.
They were once the pioneer who defined the creative, non-corporate culture of Silicon Valley. To consumers, Yahoo has never been “evil” or abused its size and power (when it had it) and many want to see them win. Channeling the atmosphere of a younger Yahoo will set the right conditions for their new people to thrive and work together with their existing teams. That DNA will lend them credibility and authenticity not just with talent, but with audiences and advertisers too. Its low ego and willingness to collaborate are exactly right for the next era of this tech company’s growth.
Finally, build your brand on collaboration.
Collaboration is fundamental to Yahoo’s DNA, and it’s key to winning in tech. Already, Marissa has made overtures to partner with Apple to take on Google which is a great first step. But it’s not just about business collaboration – it’s collaborating with the public too.
Yahoo should take a cue from one of its contemporaries in the tech world, Mozilla— a brand that’s built entirely on collaboration from inside and out. Mozilla’s mission to promote openness, innovation and opportunity on the Web is their ultimate decision-making filter. They have a global community of thousands of volunteer contributors whose opinions and perspectives are at the center of all their business moves. Moreover, they trust that community to be stewards of their brand – to share it, improve it, and love it like their own.
Yahoo needs to realize that people have a stake in their success too. And if they want to understand what would “make their daily routines truly delightful,” they’ll need to get way more intimate with their consumers. Beyond users, beyond clicks. A passionate partnership that leverages all of the ways a brand can listen to and work with its audience today is the best way to build products and programming that are thoughtful, relevant and attention grabbing.
Despite the media scrutiny of Marissa, I feel people are genuinely excited to see where she can take Yahoo right now (I know I am!). And the path could be a bright one by clarifying where you want to go and building a brand purpose to get you there.
Nick O’Flaherty is strategy director at Wolff Olins New York. A version of this article originally appeared on iMedia Connection.
In India Infosys is a 21st century Icarus- like Icarus they were highly ambitious and wanted to fly high. They were a firm which soared above everything else but soon lost its wings and fell steeply.
In 2006, though Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) was larger on paper, it was Infosys that was considered the poster boy of India’s IT industry. It was known for delivering excellence while conducting business in a legal, transparent, and ethical manner. It epitomised corporate governance in Indiaand was a favorite of investors, job seekers and clients alike. Infosys was aggressive, innovative and growing. TCS, on the other hand, was a huge but ailing incumbent facing stiff competition.
Fast-forward to 2013 and the difference in the condition of the two companies is stark. Infosys is struggling to maintain its growth as well as margins. Market value of the firm has fallen by 20% in a short period of one month. Attrition is alarmingly high at 20% and management itself doesn’t appear much optimistic. TCS on the other hand, has turned the tide to become the undisputed leader again. What happened in the time span of a few years?
Recession happened, some argue. Others say that as the world is becoming more technologically advanced, IT is becoming a more dynamic industry in which to work. Firms need to adjust accordingly, in order to sustain growth and remain profitable.
TCS restructured itself into a simpler but more customer-centric organization. It started utilizing its workforce better, improved employee engagement, decreased its dependency on its US-based clients and became more innovative and aggressive. Margins improved as operations and management became crisper. Not only did it survive the recession, TCS used it to prove its resilience and strength.
The turnaround stories of greater technology giants like IBM and Apple need not be retold. These firms were hailed initially as innovation masters but suffered with crises of identity and purpose.
Infosys has good resources in terms of employees and cash reserves. Many Fortune 500 companies are its clients and although investors are quite skeptical, they are not yet hopeless. If IBM, Apple and TCS can do it, investors want to believe that Infosys can do it too. It might not be wise to use the approach taken by other firms, because one size fits none. But what then could be the way forward for Infosys?
Learning from one’s own mistakes is good but learning from one’s own success is better, though rare. All Infosys might need to do is to go back to the future it aspired to create. The firm that started as Infosys Consultants went on to become the best-of-its-class software service provider during the next phase of its growth. As the IT industry evolves with cloud computing ensuring that more emphasis placed on software than ever, Infosys could also enter a new phase of possibilities.
It still has the potential to deliver on its initial promise of providing complete solutions and not just isolated software to its clients. Infosys started as a dream, a vision. It would be a dream come true for all stakeholders if it became a global IT consultancy brand that gave innovative solutions to its clients and hired best talent world has on offer.
As branding is increasingly more about purpose, would Infosys offer a reason for its existence and success which clients, markets, employees and people around the planet would not be able to resist? In the world of Indian IT, where ‘cut, copy, paste’ is employees’ inside joke for innovation, could Infosys be the game changer? We all have our fingers crossed.
Zia Patel is Head of Strategy Wolff Olins India. Mayanka Sharma is an intern at IIM Lucknow.
We love a good story of positive impact. So of course when we heard about Yazmany Arboleda’s latest global art project, we couldn’t help but share.
For the fourth installation of his Monday Morning series, the Colombian-born artist is planning to distribute 10,000 pink biodegradable balloons to commuters in Kabul, Afghanistan. Partnering with local and global human rights organizations, the pink balloons will represent women’s rights.
For all the New Yorkers out there, check out the 10,000 Balloons Pop Up Event happening on the Lower East Side next Monday, May 6, to help celebrate and participate in this incredibly unique experience.
10,000 balloons stands apart from Arboleda’s other Monday Morningpieces because for the first time, the series will be financed by people around the world. One dollar buys one balloon - an effort to create equal ownership of the project by all who contribute. Additionally, inside each balloon there will be a message from the person who bought it.
Arboleda calls this campaign a “living sculpture” that brings joy, wonderment and a new sense of awareness to people.
Rebecca Dersh works in marketing at Wolff Olins New York.
…Or so the new “Take Off” advertising campaign for Acela Express would have us believe. And maybe they’re right. According to the New York Times, 75% of travel between NYC and Washington DC occurs on Amtrak trains. And Acela ridership specifically accounts for nearly 3.4 million passengers on Northeastern corridor rail transit every year.
Here’s a video from the campaign:
When Acela was launched in 2000, it focused on business travel with its offer of speed, efficiency and flexibility. Today, the new “Take Off” advertising campaign hits this proposition well, with a sharp elbow-jab toward the Northeast corridor airlines that comprise the main competition for the business travel dollar. But the “Take Off” campaign pitches Acela even more ambitiously – it speaks of “reimagining business travel”. We wondered if Acela is really doing that and what it would take.
To create a brand experience that delivers on that promise, Acela needs more than a well-articulated ad campaign. They have to start looking for ways to use innovative spaces, better services, and powerful partnerships to shift the current perception of business travel time from “wasted” to “optimized.” Here’s how we’d get started…
The basics matter
In some ways, today’s Acela merely represents the basic standards that business travel should be delivering. What could their “reimagined” business travel look like? Could Acela be the ‘ultimate mobile office’, and what would it take to be that? Maybe it isn’t so much about luxury or premiums, but about the most reliable basic necessities.
Could Acela ensure that every passenger has a super clean and comfortable seat that doesn’t remind you of the 3.4 million other passengers who are using them? And of course…a working power outlet, maybe even two per passenger?
And how about consistently reliable hi-speed Wi-Fi? While both the Delta Shuttle and many express bus services also offer Wi-Fi, Acela’s ‘ultimate mobile office’ would need to go the extra mile to deliver a fast, consistent service. (Easy for us to say, as we don’t have to figure out the location of cellular towers, router reception, demand load, etc.) Acela could look for an opportunity to partner with a best-in-class mobile Wi-Fi provider, and create an utterly compelling Wi-Fi delivery that locks them in as the go-to choice for Northeast business travellers. Trenitalia’s Frecciarossa, Italy’s state-owned TGV, gets high customer ratings for its Wi-Fi Internet, an experimental network available through a co-operation between Trenitalia and Telecom Italia.
Delight with fresh food and dining
Given that many busy business travellers often have to travel during mealtimes, quality, healthy food and beverages could go a long way in this “reimagination” of business travel. Would a franchise partnership with Whole Foods or Le Pain Quotitiden enable Acela to differentiate from the low-grade food options served on most airlines? Acela’s café car facilities, compared to airplanes and buses, could provide their brand a real advantage. The ‘ultimate mobile office’ might even offer its first-class passengers the option of hot or cold gourmet meals served directly at your seat. They could take a cue from Virgin Rail’s Intercity line in the UK and the TGV in France for example, which both offer a gourmet food service that creates a distinctly enjoyable travel experience.
Optimizing the space advantage
Given that air or bus travel makes most think of cramped and stuffy space, could Acela maximize its comparative space advantage to help reinvent business travel? We played with some more ideas to put space to work in a way that would change the game.
Conference Call Pods:
Acela’s Quiet Cars are wonderful – no need to blast music in your earphones to drown out your fellow passengers’ important discussions or telephone calls. But given the reality that business travellers do indeed have pressing matters to discuss, could Acela take full advantage of the space offered by a train and provide a car fitted with sound-safe conference call pods?
Executive Meeting Room:
As time-optimization is high on the list of priorities for all business travellers, wouldn’t it be cool if you could simultaneously nail a key meeting or presentation whilst traveling? Could Acela offer executive meeting rooms equipped with conference table, Okamura or Aeron inspired seats, and a large-format HD screen that connects to a PC for video projections.
Building on our imaginary executive meeting room, could Acela further optimize its space advantage and offer a fitness car? Maybe partner with Equinox Fitness or CrossFit and install stationary exercise machines so travellers could optimize their time and workout while traveling instead of sitting still.
One of the great things about an Acela journey is the low number of service announcements compared to the seemingly never-ending in-flight announcements suffered on your average flight. Could Acela further focus on reducing travel stress and become known for memorable and delightful employee service? Could they model a program on the Ritz Carlton’s “Legendary Service” training program for employee and customer engagement? Or survey their passengers to really understand what comprises the ultimate in service on-board Acela? Per our service-announcement point, they might find that less is more.
21st century rail travel
Rail travel in the US has a long way to go to catch up to European and Asian standards, and perhaps that is more a political question than brand experience. But hi-speed rail tracks that are designed for hi-speed trains would really help Acela deliver on its core promise of speed. And ensure it could truly differentiate from the legacy of Amtrak and freight trains! As the US becomes increasingly conscious of carbon-foot printing (again some way to go to catch up to European standards), hi-speed/hi-efficiency rail travel could give Acela a valid advantage in offering business travelers the greener mode of transport.
Acela brand potential
We wanted to play with the possibilities that a meaningful brand experience could deliver, and imagine what it might really take for Acela to “reinvent business travel”. By providing innovative spaces, services and powerful partnerships that enable business people to travel and work more efficiently, Acela could potentially reinvent the current perception of business travel time as wasted, and reinvent business travel in a way that delivers high value with a low carbon footprint.
We’re onboard, are you?
Angela Riley is a Strategy Director at Wolff Olins New York.
In the first of a series of interviews with inspiring female leaders, Wolff Olins’ global COO, Sairah Ashman, interviews Zena Bruges.
Zena Bruges is managing director of The Future Laboratory, a business that helps clients look into the future to understand how consumers will behave. After studying at Edinburgh University, she has led a number of successful creative consultancies.
What are the most significant shifts influencing your business?
The need for speed and flexibility. We’re increasingly working at an accelerated pace and need to be agile in our business planning, so we can adjust and adapt easily. Clients are relying on us to help them understand what the world will look like in 2, 3 and 5 years it used to be 10. Consumer tastes change far more swiftly now with product innovation and cycles needing to keep up. This is definitely influencing the needs of our clients and how we work.
What do you see as the key growth accelerators for you over the next 12 months?
We’re sitting on a product that not a lot of people know about, so we’re very focused on raising our profile as a way of unlocking growth. We’re also looking at expanding into new markets where our offer is attractive and effective which means mature markets rather than developing ones.
What role do you see brand playing in helping achieve your goals?
We’re hugely aware of the power of brand in the marketplace for ourselves and for our clients. Studies continue to reinforce this and and it’s especially the case for younger generations. Brands are very much an integrated part of life. Like you, we believe brand is an entire experience and not simply a corporate identity. Staying true to this philosophy as we promote ourselves and grow will be critical.
What or who inspired you in the early years of your career?
I spent an early part of my career in New Zealand. It exposed me to a really positive can-do spirit and gave me a sense that anything is possible. My boss at the time was also really good at helping me stretch, giving me room to deliver, encouraging me to trust my own judgement and to just get on with stuff. It’s really stayed with me and stood me in good stead as I’ve set up and run multiple businesses that sense that everything is possible.
What advice would you pass on to others just starting out?
Be entrepreneurial. Think about what’s good for the business you’re in. And what could be a new business even if you don’t want to set one up. Develop ideas and be an opportunity spotter. Be curious and confident, but never arrogant. And have fun!
I went shopping the other day. To Sainsbury’s, but that’s not important. As I ambled along the aisles I saw two things that made me question if what I do for a living is evil and a third that restored my faith in the power of brand and design. Let me tell you about them…
The first was in pride of place in the bread section – a little poly-wrapped loaf of ‘crustless’ bread. Now don’t misunderstand me, I like my snacks to be maize based, my wheat in puffed form and my MSG bountiful. A man who eats as many crisps as me is no food snob but, really, crustless bread? That’s one step away from me getting a trolley full of baby food every week because ‘it all goes down the same hole’.
It’s not the quality of the loaf or the packaging that was unnerving – it’s the brand idea. What is this in the world to do? The fact it exists at all means someone thought the idea had legs. I blame all of us.
This is a product not born of passion and determination but of consumer research and focus groups. We asked the public what they wanted and they said this. Not everyone can make their own hummus or sun-dry their own tomatoes but this isn’t about convenience, it’s about laziness; too lazy to cut, too lazy to chew. This is Henry Ford’s premonition of faster horses brought to life as an anaemic blob of carbohydrates.
Focus groups are fascinating places to be - in an anthropological sense. The ones that I have been in seem to always follow the same patterns. Loud person dominates the room for a bit, then everyone turns on them, nothing much gets resolved and the occasional bit of gold comes from the quiet one in the corner. Focus groups have their place but not as a way of ‘testing’ a brand. You can’t test the unknown. You just bring a carousel of baggage from other things to it. Viewpoints from a wider audience have to be baked in as you develop a brand idea but not taken wholesale as the answer. A large part of what we do at Wolff Olins is to balance what the world thinks it wants with what we think it really needs to succeed in the future.
The second thing I saw was a copy of a national newspaper. Its entire front page was devoted to the split of a band who were runners up in a talent contest in 2008. It’s a shame. But is it the single most important thing 3.13 million people need to be told about on Wednesday 24 April 2013?
I know tabloid newspapers are there to entertain as much as to inform, so it’s not the paper or even JLS that bother me, it’s how the JLS brand came to be and the plain safeness of it all.
The band are universally liked; sister, brother, granny, mother, everyone agrees they are/were definitely OK. And that’s the issue. Like the crustless bread JLS were born of consensus. 28 writers are credited on their first album. 34.66% of 8 million viewers thought they were better than Alexandra Burke. Of course Marvin and JB will sell more papers than Syria – it’s a safe bet.
The Manic Street Preachers once said “we don’t want to be anyone’s second favourite”, all or nothing, you’re with us or you’re with someone else. The best brands think and act like that – fearless and peerless, they take risks and know that if they are striking out on their own they are, at least, doing one thing right.
Bringing a great brand to life needs strong creative leadership and similarly bold approach with singular decision-making. A clear vision for people to get behind, coupled with a desire to not play by the rules. It’s about maintaining that passionate startup mentality no matter how mature your business is.
Which leads me to the final thing I saw (not surprisingly, in the drinks aisle). A single bottle of Swedish Vodka by a 134-year old brand, and next to it another perfectly un-identical version, row upon row of discordant bottles, sat like interlopers at a tea party.
The idea of limited edition bottles is nothing new but this bottle was one of four million, each one different from the next. I saw the idea for this a few months ago at an awards ceremony. Naturally, it did well but on the shelf it makes even more sense. I watched an old woman put three in her trolley; the care with which she chose each specific bottle from the shelf implied she wasn’t planning to get off her head. What I like the most is this is a perfect extension of the spirit of the brand. A brand that has spent years building the idea of their bottle being a canvas for creativity and now, in an ultimate act of confidence, taking their production line apart to make it a reality. It’s different, brave and it just works.
This is particularly relevant for the UK in 2013. Hell, we even run a government on a consensus driven timeshare basis. But today, more than ever, we need great brand ideas and innovative design to hurl us forward rather than nanny us with vanilla blandness, telling us what we want to hear. We should be making a concerted effort to shake ourselves out of a triple dip funk by embracing the different and difficult. There’s a great opportunity in these times of austerity to break the rules, make some new ones, to put some noses out of joint.
Great brands are peerless, they rebel. They say ‘I’m doing it this way, you do what you like.’
Let’s be more like that.
Chris Moody is Creative Director at Wolff Olins London.
This week, a few colleagues and I were able to spend time at FastCo’s Innovation Uncensored in NYC. Much of the discussion was focused on the disruption of almost every category by changes in media - here are a few of my key takeaways on what this all means for brand:
A smart content strategy has to start with brand purpose
When there are a million things you could do to engage with consumers, focusing on what will make a difference to your brand is critical. The starting point should be a powerful and differentiated brand purpose that can act as a lens for decision-making and a brief for content. Your brand purpose will be the jumping off point for populating an entire content calendar and informing every piece of content. Speakers from Intel, Dove, and Oreo each honed in on how important their purposes have been to content creation. For Intel it’s enriching the lives of everyone on the planet, and for Dove it’s making women feel more beautiful. The VP of Global media and consumer engagement for Oreo said, “Brand drives what you listen to, and therefore the insights you build ideas on”.
Brands doing this well:
+ Evian’s recently ended their silence and have come out with a slew of baby ads. They’re well produced and have returned to the brand’s ‘baby’ heritage. “Baby and Me” launched earlier this week and has already gotten over 30 million YouTube views.
+ Chipotle’s “Back to the Start” video is another example of a company leading with purpose, was instantly a viral hit. Chipotle’s purpose – food with integrity – made the video feel like a genuine extension of everything the brand is working to achieve.
+ And Fiat’s appealing to mothers across the globe and using its brand to reach new audiences with “The Motherhood”.
Your brand is the company you keep
Companies will be successful in these brand-building endeavors if they are clear about their own role and select the right sort of company to keep. Often the brand’s role is creating and funding a platform, but access to the right tribes of people to engage with will come from partnering strategically with an organization or agency that understands what will appeal to that specific audience. Intel has partnered numerous times with Vice on Creators Project (a global tech arts and music festival). Nancy Lublin from Do Something also reinforced this point when she explained the partnership between Dosomething.org + Aeropostale that’s combating homelessness in a way where everyone gains.
Brands doing this well:
+ Vimeo (a community of filmmakers) and Lincoln Motor Company (an old iconic American brand) have come together to create the “Hello Again” project that invites filmmakers to reimagine iconic brands via Vimeo.
+ Soundcloud is partnering with Red Bull, Blue Bottle Coffee (& others) to provide access to their huge community and create new revenue streams, all whilst protecting the integrity of their own brand and respecting their members.
You have to be geared up differently to act in the moment
For Dove’s latest campaign, the client had to sign off on a ‘social experiment’, not a carefully crafted script. They shot real women in real time, and the marketing team had to be on set to make decisions in real time.
Oreo was able to react so quickly during the Super Bowl blackout this year because they were able to rely on the social strategy they’d already had in place. 18 months ago, Oreo marketing created the ‘Impulse Lab’ (a team of cross-functional brains from insights, brand and legal teams) that set them up to react in right the moment. The payoff was the tweet that became one of the most memorable moments of the Super Bowl.
It’s increasingly clear that in the moment scenarios like this are becoming more and more important for brand. Social media teams are being built up and invested in unlike ever before. In the past 5-10 years, ‘social’ jobs have become commonplace.
And rising star companies like Salesforce are even evolving these roles – they’re changing the title to ‘social strategists’.
So to wrap up the ‘so what’ of it all – get your purpose right as it’s the fuel for everything. Work directly with the people you want engage with your brand. And reengineer your marketing capabilities and processes to suit the new context.
Sam Wilson is managing director of Wolff Olins New York.
Last week it was announced that gov.uk — the government’s new digital presence — was the winner of the Design Museum’s Design of the Year award, making it the first website to claim the prize.
Gov.uk (designed by the government digital service) aims to combine all the UK government’s websites into a single entity, the idea being to save public money and make vital services simpler to use.
A lot has been made of gov.uk’s design — its stark functionality, and the simplicity of the visual language. It all adds up to a product that is very, very fit for purpose. It could be said that great design feels inevitable, but this goes one step further. The experience of using gov.uk leaves you with no opinion on the site whatsoever, only the information you were looking for. It’s moved beyond inevitable, and become invisible.
This success shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all, we have form when it comes to big, civic design initiatives: the London Underground map and our road signage systems being the two obvious examples. No lost tourist in a car full of screaming children has ever stopped to appreciate the reassuringly clear hierarchy of our motorway signs when looking for their hotel; they just get where they need to go. The design itself has become invisible. Gov.uk is merely the latest in a long line of Great British design projects (in fact, Jock Kinneir and Margaret Calvert’s Transport typeface has been re-worked and used by the government digital service).
This history of ‘getting it right’ is the best part of the whole affair. It speaks volumes about our nation, our abilities and our sensibilities. Successes like these do wonders for our soft power, and help create ‘Brand Britain’. This particular win goes further than anything before it, as there now exists a visual language, tone of voice and set of guiding principlesfor the Government of the United Kingdom. Gov.uk is so much more than a functional website: it’s defined the visual identity of an entire country, and is defining how a government interacts with its citizens (it just doesn’t know it yet).
Where we go from here is really exciting. The Government Digital Service have created something with the potential to define and improve the experience of everything from voting in a local election to receiving treatment from the NHS, and they’ve done it in an open and collaborativeway. Gov.uk as a site is great, but what it’s doing beneath the surface is what’s truly game changing.
Tom Petty is a designer specialising in experience and interaction at Wolff Olins London. You can follow him on twitter @tp
Can you be a ground-breaking thinker, doer, leader and influencer day after day?
We’re a highly ambitious business determined to help clients across all sectors better address the challenges and opportunities presented by today’s turbulent world. We’re also one of the Sunday Times’ Top 100 Best Small Companies to work with.
We’re committed to transforming existing markets, creating new markets, to helping businesses and organisations responsibly grow. And the responsibility bit is important. We put positive social impact at the heart of what we do.
If you see yourself as a game- changer and have a brilliant mix of imagination, logic, resilience and a special talent to make things happen then we may be your perfect fit. If you feel that others - inside Wolff Olins or in client organisations of as many as 100,000 people would follow your lead, we would love to hear from you.
You may be from big business, from a start-up or you may run your own show. You need solid business know-how, true creative flair and an ability to not just re-define the purpose of an organization but to re-tune its culture, processes, products, services and end goals accordingly.
We work across all sectors – technology, finance, government, professional services, arts and non-profit and we hope you would be up for some sector experimentation too. Unusual mixes of experience and expertise is inherent to our approach.
Currently, we’re on the lookout for strategy team members at our most senior levels:
Our strategy directors are outstanding leaders. They work alongside the CEOs of the world’s major organisations. They successfully manage the balance between social and commercial impact. They can think with crystal-clear simplicity but also manage extraordinary complexity and they run large multi-dimensional projects which span the full range of deliverables - from long-range envisioning through to the detail of web experiences and produce design. Most of all they have the stamina to work for months and often years taking a client on the journey of profound, market defining change. Most come to us with at least 9 years of hands-on experience.
Our seniors are the drivers of our biggest projects. They are responsible for some of the most significant areas of our impact – conceiving new products and services, building new businesses, devising new revenue streams always with a view to giving more customers a better experience and an improved belief in the companies that serve them. Often they bring an injection of new knowledge to Wolff Olins – as experts in product innovation, culture change, digital experiences, emerging markets or sustainability. We welcome focused areas of knowledge, especially if it can be applied to the wealth of opportunities we take on. All our senior strategists are inventive, disciplined, inspiring and results focused. Most have at least 7 years of experience
Beyond the impact our strategists have on client projects, they each contribute a great deal to helping us grow as a business internally. There’s all to play for in this respect. We have a highly entrepreneurial culture and we respond well to vision and initiative. We back people’s ideas and help them grow…
If you are interested in being part of Wolff Olins, please send your CV and a covering letter outlining the kind of extra firepower you can bring our business to email@example.com - with Strategy Director or Senior Strategist in the header. Thank you!